All Strings Attached

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Chapter 6: Tomorrow's Second Bell

 Beka glared at the taller man. “Excuse me? I wasn’t talking to you.” He smiled at Arika. “I’m surprised seeing another prince here, I liked it more knowing I was the only one to visit, Lady Sibylla.”

 “…” Arika picked up a roll and happily ate it. “This is so sweet! Vira dear, you must try one!” She spoke with a gleeful expression.

 Sin-Vira looked confused by her sudden chipperness. She guessed it was because her efforts to ignore Beka were obvious.

 Her hand was yanked by Beka, forcing her to drop the roll. “Why!? You always gave me the cold shoulder but you’re speaking to a freak? You never called me ‘dear’! What makes him so special?”

 Arika instinctively froze up, unable to pull back out of fear her hand would detach. While she was fine with hand-to-hand combat– it was only with those who were aware of her secret. Just in case she was to lose a limb or her joints became exposed. If Beka of all people were to discover this, she knew he would use it as blackmail.

 “Stop ignoring me! I’ve put up with this long enough, Sibylla-”

 Vira interrupted him by connecting his fist to Beka’s cheek, causing him to stumble and fall back. He threw a punch clean enough to likely knock Beka out. Though to Arika’s misfortune, he was conscious and groaning. Rubbing his cheek that was bright red. The tension in the air was vivid as Beka’s hatred which must’ve been boiling after such a scene.

 “Whoops! My bad. There was a mosquito on your cheek.” He held his hand out to him. “Oh and that was for treating Lady Bylla like that.

 Arika felt her stress leave her as she held her arm, moving her hand around until it proved sufficient. The strings felt bound and nothing was out of place. “Please don’t hit him, Vira. It’s unfair to attack someone like that. Even if they deserve it…” she spoke under her breath.

 The fallen prince pushed himself up and dusted himself off. He adjusted his cuffs and raked his fingers through his thin hair. It did look awful, knowing Beka he likely did his hair himself to impress her.

 “Why are you even here? As far as I’m aware, no kingdom wants anything to do with Snapdragons. You only cause trouble,” Beka asked as he kept a brave face.

 Sin-Vira walked close to him as his arms crossed over his chest. “I was invited here. Though, you don’t seem to be as welcomed. Ya, sure she doesn’t want anything to do with you, corny?”

 “Cease the nicknames! I am Prince Beka Ann Valhammar of the Hyacinth Kingdom! You of all people will not disrespect me! Even with your title, you’re barely more than trash!” Beka jabbed his finger into the broader man’s chest. “Remember that you’re nothing more than a Snapdragon. Lady Sibylla shouldn’t subject herself to the spawn of a serpent.”

 It was amusing for her to compare their size and build. Though they were more of a contrast. Sin-Vira had a better height, noticeable muscles, and had experience in fighting. Beka, on the other hand, was frail and likely evaded more physical interactions. Comparing them was like comparing a king lobster to a shrimp. It was just too different to make it fair.

 Arika felt a bit disgusted hearing him speak like this. While he was attractive, it was his attitude towards any other man that made him as charming as a troll. Short and fuming over nothing.

 Sin-Vira lifted him by his collar. “Bold of you to insult my mother as you act like a spoiled child! I’m in no mood dealing with a prick like you. Sibylla, do something.”

 The called upon princess sighed as she begrudgingly stood with her back straightened as she clasped her hands together. She had been ignoring him for a while now and Vira was her only chance to get rid of him once and for all.

 “Prince Beka. The last three months of you harassing me has been… well– vexing! I have no interest in spending quality time with you and I’ve only tolerated you to keep father off my back about finding a prince. I’ve made it known multiple times that I don’t care for you or your empty words. Ignoring wasn’t enough either, so maybe a flat-out rejection will work!” She placed her hand on Sin-Vira’s cheek and playfully pinched it. “Vira darling has agreed to spend time with me for the day. Every moment you stay is wasted when I could’ve spent it with someone with who I share a common desire.” She looked up at Sin-Vira. “Is that enough?”

 He grinned, showing his sharp teeth. “You have a way with words, quite poetic. Any objections, Prince Annie?”

 “...I won’t back down to the likes of him! Lady Sibylla was always sweet and well-mannered, speaking like this doesn’t suit you. Your inadequate existence is a bad influence on her!” He then jabbed his thumb to his puffed-out chest. “I challenge you to a duel, Sin-Vira. We’ll see who deserves Sibylla’s attention once and for all.”

 The princess and prince scoffed in unison at his proposal. He recked of desperation… and fish as usual.

 “He doesn’t have to agree to–”

 “I accept!” Sin-Vira said with enthusiasm, dropping the prince who nearly fell again. “If time allows it, I’d like to get this over with as soon as possible. Though it’s not because I care for winning her attention. No- I just want an excuse to take you down from your high horse and drag you through the mud for more public humiliation! You wouldn’t mind, right princess?”

 Arika stared at Beka, who was visibly shaken up. Her sister would never agree to such a thing knowing the clear victor. Thankfully, she didn’t have to act like her at the moment.

 “Hmm… sure! I’m sure my people would love to see your strength, Sin-Vira! I am also in search of a new dueling partner! I’ll arrange for a match tomorrow here at the second bell. If either participant fails to attend on time, they forfeit the match! I hope that’s simple enough for both parties to follow?”

 Beka’s bottom lip quivered. “Y–yeah sure! Whatever!” he threw his hands in the air. “I can’t believe you would side with him…” he mumbled as he walked down the path of shame that leads to the gate.

 The two royals watched him leave in silence until the gate slammed shut. The metal clanking together so aggressively, the ringing echoed.

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